- Jan 13, 1947
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Christopher P. Thomas (born 13 January 1947 in Brentford, Middlesex) is an English record producer who has worked extensively with the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, Roxy Music, Badfinger, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Pulp and the Pretenders. He has also produced breakthrough albums for the Sex Pistols, the Climax Blues Band and INXS. He worked on the initial sessions for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2.
Chris was classically trained on the violin and piano as a child and he began playing bass in London pop bands, turning down at one point the opportunity to play with Jimi Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell before Hendrix had struck fame. After several years, Thomas decided that he had little interest in making a career as a performing musician. In a 1998 interview, he stated “I realized that being in a band you were dependent on all these other people, and I also knew that if I’d ever been successful in a band, I would’ve wanted to stay in the studio and just make the records; I wasn’t that interested in playing live.”
Recording sessions with the Beatles
Looking to break into production, Thomas wrote to Beatles producer George Martin seeking work and in 1967 was employed as an assistant by AIR, an independent production company which had been founded by Martin and three other EMI producers. Thomas was allowed to attend sessions at EMI Studios by the Hollies and, in 1968, the Beatles. He was there for much of the recording the Beatles’ self-titled double album (also known as the “White Album”). Midway through these sessions, Martin decided to take a holiday, and he proposed that Thomas continue working with the band in his absence. Thomas recalled: “I had just come back from holiday myself, and when I came in there was a little letter on the desk that said, “Dear Chris, Hope you had a nice holiday. I’m off on mine now. Make yourself available to The Beatles. Neil and Mal know you’re coming down.”
Thomas produced (without credit) “Birthday” and “Happiness Is A Warm Gun“. He also played keyboards on four songs from the White Album: harpsichord on “Piggies“, Mellotron on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill“, and piano on “Long, Long, Long” and “Savoy Truffle“.
Early production credits
Thomas was not credited as producer or co-producer on The Beatles, although his name appears as co-producer on some of the original session sheets. […]
One of the people closely involved with the “Wings Over America” film is Chris Thomas, who is working on the sound track. A rock producer, with experience in a variety of rock spheres, this is his first involvement with film sound.
After leaving school in London, and doing a spell at the Royal Academy of Music, Chris turned to playing the guitar, starting with rhythm and moving over to bass. He played in various groups for two to three years, and wrote some
songs, one of which was performed by the Everly Brothers. But he was really interested in the production side of the music business, so Chris wrote to George Martin at Air Studios in 1968 and landed a job as his assistant. He remained there for three years, and it was while working with George Martin on the Beatles’ White Album that Chris first met Paul and Linda.
After leaving Air Studios, Chris became an independent producer. He worked with the Climax Blues Band, Procol Harum (for whom he did five albums), Roxy Music and later Bryan Ferry, Pink Floyd and Badfinger. His most current work has been with the Sex Pistols and the Tom Robinson Band.
In 1975 Chris had a break from producing, to go on the road with John Cale, playing keyboards on their U.K. and European tours. He found it a refreshing change from studio work. The practical experiences he gained had a great effect on his subsequent recording work to which he now brought new insights.
Chris finds the work for the “Wings Over America” sound track different from the mixing done for records, as the soundFrom Club Sandwich N°8, April / May 1978
must be over-emphasised to match the acoustics in large cinemas. The cinema effect is simulated in the dubbing room
so as to obtain an authentic idea of the cinema’s auditory range. Chris feels that rock ‘n roll cinema is going to become an expanding field, and would in future like to work more on films.
From Mix Online about recording “Back To The Egg“:
[…] The other thing that happened was I’d been working with Paul McCartney on Back to the Egg and that had gone on for a really, really long time, and I didn’t want to get into the studio with another band particularly. So we decided we’d just cut a single [for ThePretenders], and we agreed we’d do a four-day week and I’d only work from 2 till 8. This was at Wessex. And that ended up working great because instead of hanging around the studio and living there for 15hours a day, we’d go in and bang! we’d be down at the pub drinking at 9 o’clock in the evening. There was fantastic energy at those sessions.
That must have been quite a contrast working with McCartney, who obviously had his own way of working well-established by then, and ThePretenders, who were this fresh, young band.
Well, at one point I was working with McCartney and The Sex Pistols at the same time!Chris Thomas
Last updated on March 7, 2020
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